Are women in the law, like Chief Justice Rogers and others, the key to making things better?

An earlier post, We Live By Symbols, didn’t work – suffered a failure to launch (never pleasant).  The title was meant to invite readers to consider the symbolism of the information we provided about Chief Justice Roger’s Public Service and Trust Commission.  Here is a pared down version of that information followed by our interpretation of its symbolic significance.

Governor Jodi Rell, nominated Chase Rogers, to be Chief Justice of our Supreme Court.  Former Chief Justice, Ellen Ash Peters, administered the oath of office to Chief Justice Rogers.  Among her first official acts, Chief Justice Rogers formed the Public Service and Trust Commission to examine and report on the Judicial Branch.  Chief Justice Rogers appointed Appellate Judge Alexandra DiPentima to chair the commission.  The, commission, consisting of a large number of highly regarded members of the legal profession who volunteered a significant amount of time, gathered a great deal of information about how the Judicial Department works from the perspective of litigants and jurors.  The goal was to understand and to improve.

As we see it Chief Justice Rogers wasted no time in “doing something.”  By establishing the Commission and giving it the charge she did, Chief Justice Rogers demonstrated her determination to listen and to care toward the end of making the Judicial Department better on a day to day basis.  We also think the title of the commission is telling.  “Public Service” and “Trust” should be the foundations of government in general and of the judicial branch in particular.  We think Justice Rogers hit the nail on the head.

We know from long experience that establishing a commission to study something can be an exercise in form at the expense of substance. But some commissions do important work despite political odds, bureaucratic sclerosis, turf-hoarding, old-boy networks, shenanigans and worse. (See for example The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation by Philip Shenon).

It is too soon to tell whether Chief Justice Rogers’ commission will lead to nuts and bolts changes in the Judicial Department that will improve the fair and efficient administration of justice on a day to day basis. Whether the example Chief Justice Rogers set of caring and of listening and of acting will lead to actual improvements will largely be up to others.  She can’t do it by herself.  To be successful this must be a group effort, a shared responsibility.  Stay tuned.